Jose Abreu had a message about his ankle Friday and it traveled 442 feet.
Amid concerns a sore left ankle would slow him down, Abreu finished with three hits, including a home run that traveled to a part of the park rarely reached by any hitter, let alone one with a bum wheel.
The White Sox slugger’s seventh-inning blast soared over the center field fence and landed in between the rows of hedges beyond it. Even though he will be the team’s designated hitter again on Saturday and they plan to give him a day off next week, Abreu’s league-leading 13th homer should alleviate any concerns the White Sox have about his ankle.
“You don’t see balls get hit like that very much,” bench coach Mark Parent said.
Still, the White Sox plan to be judicious with their shiny new toy.
After all, his ankle bothered him enough in spring training that he sat out two days in the week before the club broke camp. The current injury isn’t in the same spot as the previous one and has required heavy treatment both before and after games the past two days.
Abreu said before Friday’s game he isn’t injured nor is he limited by the ankle, just that it’s a bother. But it’s enough of a hindrance that manager Robin Ventura decided to move Abreu from first base to designated hitter on Friday to keep him off his feet and let the ankle heal.
After the game, Parent said Abreu would DH again on Saturday and the White Sox potentially would give their slugger Wednesday off. The White Sox are off Thursday and think Abreu could benefit from 48 hours off.
Catcher Tyler Flowers said he’s impressed with how Abreu handled a 91-mph sinker from Trevor Cahill on the outside corner.
“For me if I’m swinging 3-0, it’s going to be hard for me to hit a homer to center,” Flowers said. “Your mind automatically goes to pulling the ball. That’s what makes it more impressive. He got a pitch out over and still did everything correct, pretty much knowing the fastball is coming and hit it out to center.”
Abreu’s night didn’t get off to the best start as he fouled the first pitch he saw off his heavily padded left foot. Ventura said Abreu isn’t comfortable wearing the padding but did so begrudgingly.
Abreu grounded out to third but singled his next two times up. He’s hitting .279 this season and has 13 homers and 36 RBIs.
“He’s pretty padded up but he just got scared,” Parent said. “And then oh, he’s fine. He’s all right. … They used to tell me that good hitters slide on his front foot. He has proven that right. The guy, even in batting practice, we’ve cut down his early work to get him off it. He tries to do too much sometimes during early work and it doesn’t give anything a chance to heal. We are cutting down on that and him being at first, that will help him stay off it.
“Get him a day or two off on the road maybe. We have one going from Oakland to Houston. Maybe we’ll get him that day before the day off.”